CEOs at large organizations usually have a network of close advisors, c-suite executives, and stakeholders who hold them accountable for achieving important tasks.
In her book Building Career Equity, expert consultant Jan Torrisi-Mokwa proposes that we all do the same. This idea could be especially beneficial if you don't have the kind of built-in accountability that a top corporate job provides. Creating your own "board of directors" can help you reevaluate your relationship to your work (if still working) or get you ready for retirement, clarify your goals, make more meaningful strides in your personal and professional development, and improve your Return on Life.
Here are six types of people you should consider offering seats on your board. While these people’s focus will be slightly different if you are in your peak career years or if you are already retired, having people to provide key insights, accountability, and encouragement is critical for all of us. As you approach retirement, having an informal group to provide insight and encouragement on what retirement could be for you would also be helpful.
An established, experienced individual in your area of interest can be an invaluable resource. Think about someone you know who has had the kind of career that you're envisioning when you look out on your projected ideal life. That pro could share lessons they learned, mistakes they want you to avoid, and feedback on your next big idea. If you are retired, having a mentor that seems to be “doing retirement right” could be invaluable. Perhaps it is someone that is volunteering in a way that you find appealing or are focused on health in a manner that you want to replicate.
Business coaches can provide some of the same insights a mentor does, but often with a higher level of systemization and accountability. There might be room for both a mentor and a coach on your board. But if you're the kind of person who commits more to things you schedule and pay for, you might appreciate the extra level of structure that you'll get from a coaching relationship. This might not apply as much if you are retired, but having an encourager in whatever form is invaluable.
Talking to academics can give you a unique perspective on trends that are reshaping your business, as well as related fields and the broader economy. But with the wealth of online classes and continuing education programs that have sprung up for adults, you could also take classes outside your comfort zone that will expand how you think about your career, or develop new skills that will help you pivot to something new. I would include reading books or listening to podcasts by those who you admire in this category. For those that are retired, this type of avenue can be especially rewarding because you are hopefully experimenting with different areas and ideas that you are somewhat unfamiliar with. Getting help from those with knowledge can accelerate the process.
Do you know someone who seems to know everyone? If not, you might want to explore professional organizations that can broaden your connections. For those that attend church, having someone that shares your faith and values can be especially beneficial. You could also consider your local professional organizations such as Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club. Groups like YPO (for CEOs of larger companies) and EO (entrepreneurs and small business owners) organize their members into forums where they can talk shop with other professionals. And getting more active on social networks like LinkedIn could help you deepen connections that you already have and identify potential board members.
5. Family and Friends
The people who know you the best are the best equipped to know when you're struggling, when you need extra support, and when it's time to celebrate. If you tend to keep business and family separate, consider sharing more of your long-term plans with your spouse, siblings, parents, or a close friend. While the other people on this list will probably focus on your professional progress, loved ones can help you stay true to yourself and find the balance you need to excel in both business and life. And on those days when your goals feel too far away from that comfy spot on your couch, a loved one will be there to get you on your feet.
In retirement, family and friends arguably become a bigger part of our lives. I would caution you, however, to not over-rely on this segment at the expense of meeting new people and gaining different perspectives. Growing is not just for those looking to reach new heights in their careers.
6. Financial Advisor
OK, we may be a little biased on this one. But we're also very confident that our Life-Focused Planning process can help you take in the big picture, establish goals, track your progress, course-correct when necessary, and get the best life possible with the money you have.
And whenever your life and your money are at a crossroads, we want to be on your speed dial. While I initially got into the business to focus on the quantitative and technical aspect of tax and financial planning, I realize that after having worked with clients over several years this role of being on our clients’ informal personal board of directors is the most important role our team at Oasis Wealth can play.